This is a follow up to my recent endevor to immerse myself in some of the more popular social networks on the web. Now that I think we’ve exhausted the MyBlogLog discussion, I thought I’d turn to LinkedIn and some of the ways that agents can use this platform to market themselves and potential earn new clients.
How LinkedIn works
LinkedIn is a relatively “closed” social network in that you don’t really get much power out of the system unless you are actively involved. While it is possible to see a someone’s online resumes without being logged in (here’s mine), the service only becomes really useful when you can see their connections and references.
How LinkedIn Really works
For LinkedIn purists, you need to only like to people you know and trust. That way, when other contacts are looking to use the services or hire someone from your contact list, they know they can have a higher level of trust in that person. This sounds good in theory, but LinkedIn doesn’t work that way anymore. Too many people have muddied the true “trust” waters, so the “rules” have changed.
For many people using LinkedIn today, the “game” is to link up with as many people as possible. For someone trying to reach an audience of potential people to hire and/or give them work (i.e. real estate agents, mortgage brokers, lawyers, etc.), you want as many connections as you can get because each connection gets you that much closer to someone who may be looking for your services in the future.
Why should you be on LinkedIn?
Here are four good reasons:
- Real estate professionals are still pretty novel on the site, so there is plenty of room to stick out.
- It is really easy to stand out… Simply upload your address book and ask previous clients for recommendations.
- The site is primarily made up of well-to-do, tech savvy people. In my office at Move, I would estimate something like 75 to 80% of the people have an active LinkedIn profile, including almost our entire executive staff.
- It meets the “what’s the worst that could happen test?“
Seven steps to make LinkedIn work for you
Step 1: Sign up for an account
Step 2: Fill in your profile
Step 3: Upload your address book and connect with everyone who is already a member of linked in (If I’m not in your address book, add my email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
note: They make it extremely easy to upload your online address book (like one through Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and/or Hotmail) by simply giving your username and password, although my advice is to always use extreme caution with giving up your password!
Step 4: Selectively invite people from your address book… My experience has been that unless I send a personal invitation to someone with a really good reason why they should join, I get a REALLY low response rate. Nonetheless, if you have some previous clients who are particularly tech-savvy (and would give you a good recommendation) then they would make a good invite candidate.
Step 5: Start recommending anyone and everyone you can. If you give a good enough review of someone, they are quite likely to return the favor! That’s a lot easier than begging for recommendations and definitely makes a good place to start
Step 6: Start begging for recommendations from all your previous clients who are on the network (and presumably have a good opinion of you!)
The cool part about these last couple of steps is that once you get even one recommendation, you’ll start showing up in their list of recommended service professionals.
Step 7: After a few weeks, I recommend returning to the site and re-uploading your address book. It’s easy and you might be surprised how many of your new contacts are already on the site!
Obviously, the more recommendations and the more connections the better.
To give you an idea of how this might work for you, my wife and I were recently interested in finding a financial adviser in our area. The first thing I did was clicked on the financial adviser link and then sorted by people who were only one degree of separation from me. One guy out of that list looked real promising and will probably get a call from us soon. Next, we went one more degree of separation and found a few more (some with a ton of recommendations). We’ll definitely give at least one or two of those people a call when were ready to start the process of actively finding a financial adviser. The parallels for reaching someone who is searching for a tech savvy real estate agent should be obvious!
There is lots more information about how to use LinkedIn all over the web, but I figured this primer was probably pretty good for the typical real estate agent… Nonetheless, if you want more, check out Guy Kawasaki’s
10 12 Ways to Use LinkedIn.